Memphis-Style Dry Ribs

  • Serves

    serves 4-6


Charles Vergos, the late proprietor of the beloved Memphis restaurant Rendezvous, invented this style of ribs served "dry," with no sauce. This recipe first appeared in our June/July 2011 BBQ issue along with our story Classic 'Cues.


  • 6 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard powder
  • 1 tsp. celery seeds
  • 12 tsp. cayenne
  • 12 tsp. ground fennel seeds
  • 14 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 2 racks St. Louis-cut pork spareribs (about 3 lb. each)
  • 34 cup apple juice


Step 1

Mix together 2 tbsp. salt, sugar, paprika, black pepper, oregano, garlic, onion, thyme, marjoram, parsley cumin, mustard, celery, cayenne, fennel, and white pepper in a bowl. Rub pork all over with all but 2 tbsp. of the spice mixture. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour or chill overnight. Whisk together remaining salt and spice mixture with apple juice and ¾ cup water in a bowl; set basting sauce aside.

Step 2

Prepare your grill using the kettle grill, bullet smoker, or gas grill method, using apple wood chunks or chips (see Fuel and Flavor). Place ribs, top side down, on grate. Maintaining a temperature of 225° to 275° (if using a kettle grill or bullet smoker, replenish fire with unlit coals, as needed, to maintain temperature; see instructions), cook, turning once and basting with sauce every 20 minutes, until the tip of a small knife slips easily in and out of the meat, 2 to 4 hours.

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